Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Africa to replace India as the Capital of Call Centres

05 March 2009

The world’s first Africa outsourcing summit will take place in London this week paving the way for the continent to replace India as the capital of call centres.

The summit sends a strong signal that the continent is ready and capable to take its share of the $150 billion outsourcing market whilst at the same time opening up a new flank for global companies to grow in as the recession deepens.

Global business is turning its head towards Africa as emerging economies such as India, Malaysia and the Philippines are quickly up skilling causing a huge turnover in their call centre staff.

A recent report by the ‘Global Call Centre Research Network’ highlights that India has a staff turnover rate of 40% a year compared with Australia at 4% a year.

This combined with the global recession means that companies are cutting back more costly outsourcing operations as witnessed by United Airlines closing their Indian call centre last month. Africa, on the other hand, has vastly improved connectivity, proximity to key markets, multi-lingual skills, lower wage costs and suitable time zones.

The summit will be attended by global companies such as Cisco, Unilever, Tata Consultancy Services, KPMG and even legal firms such as Alan and Overy. Ministers from South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya and Botswana will all be present vying for business.

Dr Mohan Kaul, Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) and brainchild of the summit, said: “This summit drives a stake through the heart of nations that are developing protectionist tendencies as the recession deepens.The popularity of the summit shows that business, more than ever, needs to invest in the skills and talent of other nations if they’re to grow. “There is no question that Africa is the future for global business and this outsourcing summit is the first major signal that the continent is ready to take its place at the top table of international flows of trade and investment.”

The CBC will also launch a new report at the summit which ranks 15 African nations in terms of their suitability for outsourcing.

The report assesses the nations across a range of factors including political stability, business environment, infrastructure and skills.

The report highlights that countries such as Egypt, Mauritius and South Africa provide very fertile ground with countries such as Botswana, Kenya and Ghana not far behind. It also states that Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda are still some way off.

The report also makes clear that Africa is not just ready to take on call centers or business process outsourcing which includes software development and data entry.

It is also more than capable of dealing with knowledge process outsourcing in accounting and legal services as well as creative work in areas of graphic design and animation.

Dr Kaul added: “The vision of Africa being a basket case is incredibly misleading. There are parts which are brimming with talent and skills and this summit is evidence that global business is taking notice. As investment floods in, Africa will become a place which business doesn’t just notice but actually can’t ignore.”